THE Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) says it has launched an investigation into the matter in which Permanent Secretary for the Remuneration Division Mwamba Peni has accused Crest Lodge Services of not being tax compliant.

On February 10, 2022, Crest Lodge Services, through its lawyers Robson Malipenga and Co. wrote to Peni, demanding a payment of K2,000 for food and beers, accusing him of abusing his office as he refused to pay stating that nothing could happen to him because he was a government official.

“Our client has informed us that on the 7th February 2022, you went to the said lodge where you accrued a bill of K2,000 for food and beers. Adamantly, you refused to pay for them as the bill was not in the tax invoice. Subsequently, our client put your bill on the tax invoice. However, you have arrogantly refused to pay and said that nothing can happen to you because you are a senior government official and you have told our client to go anywhere to file a complaint,” the letter read.

“Kindly note that your conduct amounts to abuse of authority and is criminal in nature. In view of the above, we demand that you settle the outstanding bill within 48 hours and failure to do so, we shall take the following steps; report you for abuse of authority to the Anti-Corruption Commission, Lodge a Criminal Complaint in the Magistrate Court which we shall prosecute and report you to the appointing authority (the President) as he did not put you in that position to harass innocent citizens.”

However, on February 11, 2022, Peni responded through his lawyers Laques & Partners stating that the claims were baseless and would injure his reputation because the bill in question was actually settled.

“Our client has informed us that your client’s claim is not only baseless, but he believes it is intended to injure his reputation. Our client has informed us that the bill in question was for service offered to two known person’s whom our client was meeting at your client’s facility in his personal capacity. On the material day, our client offered to settle the bill on their behalf and requests for a Tax receipt generated from a point-of-sale machine which your client failed or neglected to produce. Your client then subsequently produced two receipts which were at variance and hence our client submitted the said receipts to the Zambia Revenue Authority for verification,” the letter read in part.

“Be further informed that at no point did our client abuse his authority as he did not do anything unlawful and neither did he visit your client’s premises in his official capacity as aforementioned hence your claim for abuse of authority is unsubstantiated and appears vexatious in its entirety. Our client has further informed us that the said bill was settled by the persons concerned and the matter is resolved. Our client takes great exception and may consider taking further action against your client whose assertion has potential to cause him injury as is a well respected and law-abiding citizen.”

Meanwhile, in a statement Sunday, ZRA Corporate Communications Manager Topsy Sikalinda said appropriate interventions would be instituted once investigation in the matter had been concluded.

“The Zambia Revenue Authority has followed with keen interest the social media debate concerning a named taxpayer and a senior government official. In this regard, the Authority wishes to assure the public that it respects the confidentiality of all its taxpayers and will therefore not be drawn into the ensuing social media discussion over the matter. We have therefore launched an investigation into the matter and appropriate interventions will be instituted once investigation has been concluded,” said Sikalinda.

“We therefore wish to assure the public that ZRA will continue to discharge its mandate professionally with high levels of integrity in line with its core values. Members of the public are encouraged to continue demanding for tax invoices reporting any cases of suspected tax evasion by taxpayers or misconduct by its officers to the designated offices, Zambia Revenue Authority Integrity Committee (ZRAIC) or directly to the Commissioner General as a way of protecting Government revenue.”